By Frank Kamuntu
If you thought we only have Citizens then you live in past; we who live in the dot com era and the future are called Netizens! In other words, Citizens on Internet.
We have the Tweeps, WhatsAppers, Facebookers, Instagramers, Snap Chatters, Bloggers, Website builders and managers, App Developers, to mention but a few.
All these Netizens, who are Social Media freaks and fans, on Saturday flocked Silver Springs Hotel, Bugolobi, for the long-awaited Social Media Fest 2019, which was organized under the theme ‘Redirecting Social Media to Impactful Social Networking Engagements’.
The Chief guest, Judith Nabakooba the Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was represented by Assitant Commissioner Micheal Acero while, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director, Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi, had been invited as Keynote Speaker but was represented by the Commission’s Public Relations Officer Ibrahim Bbosa.
In his speech, Mr Mutabaazi thanked the sponsors of the event for understanding the concept of the Social Media fest, saying it is one of the ways to catch up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
He expressed happiness about the transmission of information that is changing decade after decade, saying that earlier on people used to foot long distances to transmit information till the invention of Printing press, but now the usage of social media transmits information so fast across the world.
He thus requested the organisers of the Social Media Fest to think more about how they can promote social media that leaves a positive impact in people’s lives.
“Instead of a person spending a day on social media insulting and gossiping, use these platforms to earn a living and make a positive change to our lives,” Mutabazi noted.
He however Commended Spotlight Publications, the publishers of Business Focus, an online newspaper for organizing the event which gives people an opportunity to discuss the changing face of media.
“I understand that one of the objectives of hosting this event is to streamline the social media industry so as to promote effective and professional communication,” he added.
He advised that “It’s important to promote awareness of digital marketing and e-commerce among Ugandans as the potential for social media to drive economic transformation.”
Mutabazi further said that as the regulators at UCC, they are excited by the tremendous growth witnessed in the ICT sector over the last two decades.
He added that the commission is more than a regulator; it’s also a facilitator, an enabler and promoter of coordinated and sustainable growth of the communications sector in Uganda.
He concluded by inviting the organizers to reach out to UCC in case of any assistance, and also promised to be their partners since they share with the Commission same objectives.
“Your objective to help streamline the social media industry towards effective and professional communication amongst users clearly makes you valuable partners of the Commission,” he concluded.
Minister Nabakooba in her speech advised all users of social media to follow the guidelines of using this system of communication, saying that since it’s one of the largest means of communication it should be respected and users must abide by the laws.
She added that the ministry is continuing to implement policies aiming at ensuring adequate and proper usage of such communication systems, which seems to be the job for many Ugandans, since a number of them gain and or increase their income through social media.
She revealed that the ministry has set up a data protection policy which will protect users’ data from being displayed anyhow and prevent careless leakage of private information.
“The ministry set up data protection policy to prevent users’ data from being carelessly displayed; not only this policy but also ICT Systems Policy will regulate users,” Nabakooba warned.
Among other keynote speakers at the event was Arinaitwe Rugyendo, a director at the Red Pepper newspaper, who advised youth to look at social media as a complete job to generate money but not waste money in data from which they don’t gain anything.
He added that entrepreneurs should highly utilize social media in form of ‘Social Media Marketing since it contains a number of users with different demands which creates market for entrepreneurs.
Rugyendo also informed the audience that platforms like Facebook have a huge Following of over 2.4 million people within Uganda and should be used effectively to create change among Ugandans. “Use such platforms as marketing tools of whatever product you have, hence generating income,” Rugyendo noted.
After the speeches, Netizens who had attended the event were treated to thrilling music from celebrated artistes like Allan Tonics, Fille Mutoni, among others, who made the Social Media geeks party Paka Last!
The event was sponsored by UCC, Ruparelia Group, Next Media, Spotlight Publications, Ministry of ICT, Indoja-U, TheSpy Uganda among others.